VII. Wawona

Pelican Bay Manuscript 1907:

After getting out and making our way over the snow to Wawona without any tracks to guide us, we went on up to the celebrated Mariposa Grove of big trees. The longer we gazed the more we admired not only their immense size, being the greatest of all living things and making even the gigantic firs and pines look like mere weeds growing among corn - so much was their grandeur dwarfed by these Sequoia Giants.

[From version "D" of the Pelican Bay Manuscript:]

we decided to make the return trip by the Mariposa trail to see the celebrated grove of Giant Sequoias.

Life and Letters: 1924

Like the Coulterville trail, all the high-lying part of the Mariposa trail was deeply snow-buried, but we found our way without the slightest trouble, steering by the topography in a general way along the brow of the canyon of the south fork of the Merced River, and in a day or two reached Wawona. Here we replenished our little flour sack and Mr. Clark gave us a piece of bear meat.

We then pushed eagerly on up the Wawona ridge through a magnificent sugar pine forest and into the far-famed Mariposa Sequoia Grove. The sun was down when we entered the Grove, but we soon had a good fire and at supper that night we tasted bear meat for the first time. My flesh-hungry companion ate it eagerly, though to me it seemed so rank and oily that I was unable to swallow a single morsel .

After supper we replenished the fire and gazed enchanted at the vividly illumined brown boles of the giants towering about us, while the stars sparkled in wonderful beauty above their huge domed heads. We camped here long uncounted days, wandering about from tree to tree, taking no note of time. The longer we gazed the more we admired not only their colossal size, but their majestic beauty and dignity. Greatest of trees, greatest of living things, their noble domes poised in unchanging repose seemed to belong to the sky, while the great firs and pines about them looked like mere latter-day saplings.While we camped in the Mariposa Grove, the abundance of bear tracks caused Mr. Chilwell no little alarm, and he proposed that we load the gun properly with buckshot and without any useless birdshot; but there was no means of drawing the charge--it had to be shot off. The recoil was so great that it bruised his shoulder and sent him spinning like a top. Casting down the miserable, kicking, bad luck musket among the Sequoia cones and branches that littered the ground, he stripped and examined his unfortunate shoulder and, in painful indignation and wrath, found it black and blue and more seriously hurt by the bruising recoil blow than it was by the shot at Crane Flat.

Son of the Wilderness: 1946

After ten days' stay in the valley they came back to the vicinity of Snelling.

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